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"It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving." -Mother Teresa

We all are born with that one thing inside of us that pulls us toward our life goals. A fire that burns deep and truly shapes our character. Purpose. I think back to when I was a young girl sitting in my guidance counselor's office. I know I was in Johnson Middle School, but I don't remember the exact age. I remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I remember answering honestly, with a full heart and tears in my eyes. I told him: "I want to help people. I'm not sure if I want to be a Psychologist, but maybe something like what you do." I can't tell you what his words of wisdom were after that, but I can remember how I felt when I spoke those words, because that fire burns inside me just as hot now as it did back then.

Growing up in a very unloving (aka hostile) environment, I formed a version of myself where I pushed love onto others or expected a certain love from them. I will delve more into this unhealthy love, or what I later came to understand as codependency in another blog down the road. But I want to stress the above Mother Teresa quote in relation to how I used to give, versus how I give now. I used to think that if I gave either myself, my time, my money, my love, my talent or my body... everything would work out as I wanted it to. Because the other person would see how much I cared. They would value how much of myself I gave to them and appreciate and respect me in return. They would see how much I'm putting their needs first and giving of myself to make them happy, that obviously they would do the same for me in return when I needed it. They would know that my intentions were pure, and that I didn't need anything in return other than their love. Surely this would work out eventually. Maybe I just wasn't doing it right... maybe I just wasn't giving myself to the right people. Funny how I thought I had it all right, but really I had it all wrong. I had convinced myself that I was giving out of love, or that because I loved these people I would give parts of myself to them. When in reality, it was still a self-serving act. I was expecting something in return. I was expecting love. I was expecting respect. I was expecting appreciation. I was being selfish. One of the first scriptures I ever memorized when I was a kid was 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it. Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits." For so many years my thoughts and actions did not align.

Today, knowing better, I have shifted to accept what I have and do the best that I can with every 24 hours that I am blessed with. Today I let love and grace flow through all my broken parts and I focus on just being the most grateful version of myself that I can be right now. And because of that, everything seems to be flowing into place. The universe is pulling me to a new path that I believe has always been my pull, my purpose. Volunteering. I genuinely love seeing the smile on people's face when I can assist them in some way. I'm not going to lie; I still get something awesome out of the deal... I feel amazing about myself. I participated in a side volunteer effort this week, and as I was leaving one of the people said to me: "Thank you for being amazing." Heart = Melted. Finding organizations that I am passionate about has been the key. Most recently I have dedicated my time to Girls on the Run because it's mission just aligns with my core values the most. Volunteering with them has been the best leap of faith I have ever taken. Of course I doubted myself in becoming a coach to 15 girls between grades 3 and 5. Am I going to be able to help them? Am I going to be judged and looked down upon? Am I really the best person to mentor these girls? YES. NO. AND YES!!! I was never an athlete when I was a kid, in fact I hated gym class and sat out as much as I possibly could. I was never into hiking or riding my bike or running or even playing twister for that matter. Anything that had to do with physical activity was not my bowl of sunshine. Because of my lack of activity, (and poor nutrition habits) I was always overweight growing up. Who am I kidding? Not just growing up... my entire life. It wasn't until four years ago that I begin to take an interest in making my physical health a priority. So I'm walking this road with the girls I mentor. I'm not just reading out of the manual... I'm involved in the program. One of the girls the other day asked if I could walk a lap with her and gave my hand a little squeeze while she asked. I felt a true connection with her. My answer was "of course, I'd love to," and we proceeded to walk 3 or 4 laps together, having an honest, open and funny conversation. I am following Mother Teresa's words. I am putting my love into my giving. Pure, true love.

I think it's super important to find that one thing that pulls us in life. Mine happens to be volunteering. What's your purpose? What fire makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning? What fills you so much joy and gratitude that you just feel so empty without it present in your life? Make a list of all these things and then look at your life now. If they don't align, it may be time to make some changes. As I was telling my trainer the other day, I was terrified to make a certain jump into the unknown. I was afraid of falling flat on my face and of course afraid of failure. But she said: "Sometimes those leaps end up only really being a small step." Funny how our mind can play tricks on us when we're not putting trust that we've already got someone watching our back and holding our hand. I'm no longer expecting things to go as I want them to. I know that there is a reason for everything that happens. And guess what? If we don't fail, we don't learn and we don't grow. We need failures and leaps of faith in our life to get to the successes and wonderment and gratitude.

What you seek is already within you. I may not be the Psychologist or Guidance Counselor I thought I'd be, but I am here to share my story to all who will hear. And right now, in this very moment... that is enough.

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